Sunday, February 10, 2013

Welcome to the Macau-China Bulletin, February 2013

Chinese New Year - Sunday February 10
The "Chinese New Year" also known as Spring Festival, is the most important celebration of the traditional Chinese holidays. On February 10, 2013 begins the year 4711 according to the Chinese calendar, and corresponds to the Year of the Snake. It is season of celebrations, starting on New Year's Day and ends with the Lantern Festival, the fifteenth day of the first month: This year began on January 26 and ends on March 6. It is customary to have family visits, special meals and fireworks, especially during the first three days of the festival.

During the New Year's Eve, the family members who live away from home make a special effort to return home and share a great meal. That is why public transport system often face an avalanche of travelers during this time.
The flower decorations in St Benedict Church
The dishes are prepared for this occasion are considered symbols of good luck. To receive the "Spring Festival" people clean their houses and hang poetic verses on red signs on their doors, decorate the houses with Chinese New Year paintings on the walls and hang red lanterns. 

There are fireworks and firecrackers, hoping to ward off bad luck and to bring prosperity. Children receive 'red-pockets'- money from elders-relatives. 
 It is a common scene during the season of Chinese New Year 
to have 1000s of people on the move

It is Chinese tradition to finish all the pending tasks to go into the the new year, and so it is important to pay off all the debts! 

Migrants' Day in Macau

On January 10 we celebrated Migrants' Day in Macau. Macau has a population of just over half a million and more than 100,000 inhabitants are immigrants.
The celebration began with a Mass celebrated by Bishop Jose Lai and concelebrated by several of the missionaries who work in Macau. 
The concelebrated Holy Eucharist was followed by agape meal and a cultural event.
Three Claretian Missionaries:
Jojo , Alberto and James Raphael (who works in Canada).

Saturday, February 09, 2013

"Here I am Lord": College students' get-together in Tai Xing

"Here I am Lord" was the theme of the gathering of a group of college students in Xing Tai, in Hebei Province,  held from 26 to 28 January.

About fifty college students, both Catholics and non-Catholics, from 40 universities of the province, participated in a reflection on faith, guided by local priests and seminarians. " We have felt the Lord's presence among us" said one of the participants. "This has helped us to understand the gifts, God has given us to create a strong network of faith and how each element of the network is an effective tool for evangelization, to expand this growing network of faith."

The second day focused on the personal experience of the life of faith in the light of the Word of God: how to be a guide of Basic Christian Communities, so that these students can become the leaders of their own communities in the environment in which they live. At the end of the gathering, the participants with full of spiritual strength and faith, committed to carry out an intense spiritual journey during the year of the faith.

Xingtai is the oldest city in northern China. Its history dates back to 3500 years, which has changed names over time. During the Shang Dynasty (1600 BC-1046 BC), Xingtai functioned as a capital city. During the Zhou Dynasty (1122 BC-256 BC), the City of Xing ( 邢 ) was founded, from which it derives its current name.

Parishioners of a Beijing Church to donate two copies of the Bible per month

The commitment of each parishioner is to donate two copies of the Bible every month to two non-Christians during the Year of Faith: This is how the Miraculous Medal Parish (called the West Church) in Beijing, plans to celebrate the year life of faith. According to information gathered by Fides, during Christmas night, the first 700 copies of the Bible donated by parishioners are already in the hands of the recipients, along with the parish bulletin on evangelization. And the answer was immediate: many of them have enrolled in the course on Catechism!

The gift of the Bible to non-Christians is not the only part of the parish initiatives for the Year of Faith. After the first hundred days of the Year of Faith, the parish has organized a concert, "Light of Faith" for the promotion of vocations. After two hundred days, around Easter, the main theme would be the promotion of religious life. And the third stage will cover the life of the parish.

The parish was established in 1723 by Fr. Teodoricus Pedrini (1670-1746) and is dedicated to the Miraculous Medal, whose feast is celebrated on July 16.

Church in China opens doors for Christmas

The solemn Christmas celebrations of the Catholic community in China is characterized by three themes: love of neighbor, witness of faith and faith formation, reported Fides.

"You and I together" was the theme of the Christmas charity evening organized by Jinde, a Catholic NGO in Shijiazhuang. There were about 400 volunteers and supporters who have been involved with it, in the country's largest charity for years.

Donations collected during the Charity event amounted to 321,000 Yuan (U.S. $ 51,000) and are intended to help the young people from poor families and orphans with physical or intellectual disabilities. The Christmas Charity Evening was also an occassion to reflect the true spirit of Christian community and it received coverage in many newspapers and public media.

A small community of the Diocese of Feng Xiang becomes a reference point for evangelization

Feng Xiang (Agenzia Fides) - The parish of Nan Guan Ji Bao Deanery in the Diocese of Feng Xiang of Shaanxi Province, is a small community of about 200 faithful, but shows its remarkable capacity for evangelization, with 45 baptisms in 2012. Monsignor Lucas Li Jing Feng , bishop of the Diocese of Feng Xiang, who is ninety years old, often visits the parish to encourage the faithful in the mission of evangelization.
According to the Bishop, the parish is small, 'but it is a reference point for evangelization in the diocese'!  And he promises: "I will come more often to further their mission and also to set an example for other Basic Christian Communities, especially in this Year of Faith. " The greatest assets of the Parish's mission are the youth groups of Caritas and the catechists.

Friday, February 01, 2013

Gaudium et Spes and Ad Gentes: Year of faith formation in the the Diocese of Wen Zhou

The Constitution Gaudium et Spes and the Decree Ad Gentes, two important documents of the Second Vatican Council, were the theme for the second training course of the year of the faith in the Diocese of Zhou Wen, held on 26 January. 430 Catechists and lay faithful of the  parish, together with the Diocesan seminarians and priests participated in the training sessions.
Five priests of the diocese elaborated the history of the Council, the meaning of the two documents, the creed, the meaning of the cross and evangelization in the year of the faith. In addition, catechists were invited to "first strengthen their faith and then transmit it to others". According to the Diocesan Vicar, "there will be several training courses for catechists and lay people, because they are the protagonists of the life of the Church, of the year of the faith. The revival of the Church depends on the laity".

Map of the world according to the population

A curious world map marking countries according to their population: 

 China and the India account for one-third of humanity!

Why China is not going to be an English speaking nation in near future

The following article is the musings of a foreign English teacher who has spent years in the Mainland China, teaching English in the Universities. After years of teaching experience in China, the author does an analysis of the booming market of English Teaching in the Chinese Universities:

The title is meant to be a challenge to the present situation of English education in China. It is an opinion based on living and teaching in China for few years. It is being written with young Chinese students in mind who deserve much better than they are now receiving. I hope that it stirs some constructive discussion that will lead to concrete changes for the benefits of the students. So, let me begin.
China is the land of milk and honey for English native speakers. The job market is booming. The offers are coming from kindergarten, primary and high schools and Universities as well. The lowest salary is around $800 a month, but it is clean money; no need to pay water and electricity bills, and lodging is free as well. For those who are qualified, however, the salary can reach as much as $2000 per month. No wonder that so many “natives speakers” are talking the chance in this time of crisis. They come in thousands, both old and young. They come excited, on fire, and some also proud, thinking that they are the “real deal”. They come and begin to teach, some of them for the first time in their lives. Every day they surf the net for some tips and activities, some ready-made lesson plans to fill up the time inside the classroom. They talk a lot to their shy and silent students, overwhelming them with their native English. The massage is easy to get: “Look at me. I’m the real deal. Learn from me; imitate me, and you will learn English.”
But, to their disappointment and often frustration, the students do not learn. They patiently listen without much understanding. They ‘text’, do other things, or drift away, while the “native” talks and talks. The year is gone, the contract is over, both the teacher and the students go home. The first, to a hero’s welcome - after all, he spent a whole year in China; the students, for a well deserved vacation, but when by chance they meet a foreigner on the streets, the only word they can think of is “hello”.

China spends millions of dollars to employ teachers from English speaking nations, yet although they are native speakers, majority of them do not qualify as teachers. Few of them holds a degree in education, even fewer major in teaching English as Second Language, not to mention lack of teaching experience. They would never have made as English teachers in their own countries, but in China they are called foreign experts.
Yet, China has no choice. Since the prominence of economy in our global world, the art of teaching has been taken for granted, even relegated to something not essential. The shortage of gifted teachers is felt not just in China but also in the West. We try to fill the gap by lowering the required qualifications offering short educational courses; a certificate, however, does not turn anyone into a qualified teacher. The situation applies to English as well. It is enough to listen to some of the popular talk shows or pop music to realize how tasteless and often meaningless the language of Shakespeare, Baron, and Conrad has become.

China has no choice not only because of the global shortage of qualified teachers, but because of its own cultural uniqueness. Although in Beijing, Shanghai, and few other major Chinese cities, a foreigner can feel rather comfortable, the moment s/he dives into the inland, s/he is basically left alone. If s/he knows a little Chinese, s/he may enter into communication with the local people, but if she does not, then cultural shock and loneliness soon will change the excitement into resentment and longing for home.
Taking into consideration these two factors, China cannot hope and expect that the situation will change in foreseeable future. Those who are qualified to teach are already employed as English teachers in their own countries. Why should they leave their homes, families, and friends to embark on such risky and unpredictable adventure like teaching English in the Middle Kingdom? Thus, no wonder one can meet in China a foreign expert, an English teacher, who has never entered a classroom before as a teacher!

If China is truly resolved to become an English speaking nation, it has to train more its own teachers. Foreign teachers cannot meet the demands for highly qualified English teachers. It can only be done by Chinese teachers, who are able to fulfil educational standards and acquire native-like fluency in English. The question is whether China is resolved to improve the quality of its English education. It would require a better training of its own teachers and employing foreign teachers who do not only speak English, but also know how to teach it. I think it is not too much to ask for on behalf of young Chinese students.

News from our Publications

New editions of the Bible that we published recently include three models of
La Biblia de Nuestro Pueblo with Lectio Divina:
•A double colour edition in medium-size
•A large edition in single colour
•A Single colour Pocket Edition.
This is the first Bible in Spanish with a guide to reading, reflection, prayer and action for each chapter of the Bible. This Bible has 2400 pages.

 Another new arrival is the New Testament and Psalms with Lectio Divina.
  A joyous news we would love to share with you: 
we have distributed more than 100,000 copies of the 
Daily Gospel 2013 in Chinese, for the mainland China.

Our Visitors

Frs. Alberto and JoJo with Fr. James Raphael,
a Claretian missionary from India
who for the past 12 years has been working in Canada.
 Fr. Manuel 'Bong' Sunaz, CMF
Fr. Manuel 'Bong' Sunaz, another entrepreneur Claretian missionary from the Philippines, also paid a visit to the Claretian community in Macau. Bong was responsible for founding of the Claretian Mission in East Timor; years later he had to begin in Vietnam and finally he moved to Australia where he works currently.

Fr. Arturo Morales celebrates the Silver Jubilee of his Religious Profession.

A small gathering of the closest Claretian friends joined together in Taishan house to celebrate the
Silver Jubilee of Rev. Fr. Arturo Morales on 24, January, 2013. 
 Fr. Arturo Morales being felicitated by Fr. Peter Chao
In an interview, Fr. Arturo relished the experience of his call to be a Claretian. Little Arturo followed a caring Claretian brother with much interest during his school days in his home country, Chile. Unfortunately (heartbreakingly for Arturo) he discontinued in the very year Arturo joined the seminary. 

 Fr. Arturo in the company of his friends
By the time Arturo had already found that it was Jesus who was actually calling him and followed Him very closely that he continued to live in the Congregation. (The brother with whom Arturo still keeps in touch, eventually became a diligent human right activist in the autocratic days of Chile! In Claret’s list he must be a Claretian even now!)

Fr. Arturo continued his journey in the midst of hardships in Taiwan when it was easier to leave than to stay. His loving nature has endeared many among whom, is a lady who refused to help him to process the official documents when he knew hardly any Chinese. To their delight she was present in the Jubilee Celebration! 
 Getting friendly is one thing but keeping them long as friends is another. He does both, a sure sign of his personal charisma. Fr. Peter Chao reminisced that Fr. Arturo was responsible for identifying his adventurous journey to be a Claretian.
 You can only marvel at this man who effortlessly changes his stay for pastoral needs in spite of his natural tendency to stay put. In the midst of affluent  plenty, despising the promises of position and prospects he chooses to work with the aboriginals of Taiwan. Indeed his is a Silver Jubilee in golden letters!

Golden Jubilee Celebrations of my parents

 Archbishop Mar George Valiamattam  
being welcomed by my parents and brother,  
Fr. Tom Cherukara [extreme right]
I am still in India enjoying a month-long vacation with my family! This vacation was a grace-filled time at home as we had the opportunity to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of  Wedding of my beloved parents on 15 January 2013. Archbishop Mar George Valiyamattam of the Diocese of Tellicherry, Kerala officiated the liturgy.
Little Flower Church, Marygiri, Kerala
Many Claretian friends including Fr. James Kannanthanam
Provincial Superior of the Province of Bangalore 
took part in the celebrations.
Our Family with  Archbishop Mar George Valiamattam